Plugged In to Drive Safe: Connectivity to Improve Automotive Safety

Imagine you're driving in bumper-to-bumper rush-hour traffic. After a long day at the office, you're exhausted and it seems like you'll never get home. You feel tired, but you don't want to pull off the road and take a break. You're confident you can make it home quickly and safely.

That's when everything changes. Suddenly, the car in front of you slams on its brakes as you step on the gas pedal to accelerate. You didn't realize the car was so close and now there's nothing you can do to prevent an accident. But instantly, your car stops, even though you never touched the brake.

The speed of automotive innovations, particularly in the area of connectivity, lunges forward by leaps and bounds. | Image Source: Flickr user Yutaka Tsutano

 The speed of automotive innovations, particularly in the area of connectivity, lunges forward by leaps and bounds.

       | Image Source: Flickr user Yutaka Tsutano

How is this possible? Well, it isn’t, not quite yet, at least. But thanks to the development of new connected car technologies, the Internet of Things (IoT) may soon provide new Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) enhancements and other car safety technology improvements. Ultimately, these technology upgrades can help increase driver safety and provide a more comfortable driving experience.

Car makers are developing a variety of new technologies, including navigation and vehicle management tools, that will make cars far more digitally connected than they are now and safer. New technologies are becoming readily available and are designed to increase driver, passenger, and pedestrian safety. In the future, vehicle management and navigation systems will enable drivers to determine not just the safest and the most fuel-efficient route, but also detailed information about the car’s performance, plus automatically send data to insurance companies and fleet owners. Technologies such as anti-fatigue devices will reduce accidents and monitor drivers’ vital functions, to alert them of potential problems. Driver assistance and safety systems will someday even let the car takeover driving completely and drive much more safely than humans.1 These new technological advancements will allow us to reduce the risk of human errors that could lead to accidents, fatalities and other dangers.

The Automotive Safety Evolution

There's a significant need to transform automotive safety. Nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year, which equals an average 3,287 deaths a day. Plus, road traffic crashes rank as the 9th leading cause of death and account for 2.2% of all deaths globally.2 The new IoT technology in the automotive industry will help lower these numbers.

The IoT technology enables automakers to address myriad safety issues early in the design process. Connected devices provide in-depth information that drivers can use to reduce risks. Recently, in-car systems have been supplemented by Internet connectivity that allows drivers and passengers to remain "plugged in" providing them with access to real-time data about road conditions, traffic and other pertinent information. These systems may even identify trends and offer recommendations to provide a better overall experience. In addition, the real-time information they provide can help drivers and passengers be more aware of their surroundings and drive accordingly.3 This represents only the here and now, just imagine what the IoT technology may offer drivers going forward.

In the future, cars will be connected to the web 24/7, giving drivers access to real-time information. The IoT will be able to warn drivers about impending problems and advise them of alternative clear routes, thanks to the rapidly evolving concept of the self-driving (or autonomous) car.

The Reality of Autonomous Driving

Reaching a day when all cars will drive themselves is no longer a question of ‘if’, but of ‘when,’ considering the consumer demand for new technology that makes driving easier. Ford Car Buying Trends 2015 studied new car buying habits in 22 countries across Europe, highlighting regional trends and national differences. The study showed significant increase in the number of cars with technologies that help drivers to park, avoid collisions and maintain set speeds and distances from vehicles ahead.4 If buying trends are already moving enthusiastically towards increased technology, it is highly likely that driverless cars will be embraced eagerly.

Driverless cars once seemed like something out of a science fiction novel, but new technologies are moving the concept that much closer to reality. There are still plenty of safety concerns surrounding autonomous cars, along with many questions that will need to be answered before self-driving cars are generally available and used.

If autonomous cars are to move forward, safety must be of the utmost concern. These cars must remain connected to the external world, while not compromising on road safety. To achieve this goal, automobile software for ADAS, gesture control, vehicle-to-vehicle communication and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication is essential. With these technologies, cars connected to the IoT will be able to supply information about location, speed and direction to drivers, ensuring motorists are protected against various on-road hazards.

Driver safety is paramount and whether through ADAS or autonomous vehicle technologies, the IoT will continue to deliver new innovations that may transform car safety. Aricent knows how to create a framework for consistent innovation: we partner with the world’s leading technology brands to build smart car technologies. The technologies we explore today can lead to safer roads, less traffic and fewer accidents in the future, ensuring drivers everywhere can enjoy their travel experiences.

Aricent offers a comprehensive suite of pre-packaged and pre-optimized software frameworks in embedded systems that enable fast-tracked product development. 

1 The Connected Car Addresses Congestion and Safety Challenges. (n.d.). Retrieved September 4, 2015
2 Ford's new autonomous driving team aims to forge ahead with innovation. (n.d.). Retrieved September 4, 2015.
3 The Connected Car Addresses Congestion and Safety Challenges. (n.d.). Retrieved September 4, 2015.
4 Ford's new autonomous driving team aims to forge ahead with innovation. (n.d.). Retrieved September 4, 2015.

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